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Customs Expands Facial Recognition…

Over the last few years, Customs and Border Protection has been rolling out facial recognition programs at ports of entry across the country, including the nation’s international airports. Now, the agency is increasing the use of the technology for its optional Global Entry program. The Global Entry program allows frequent travelers who are considered “low risk” to bypass CBP officers and go directly to baggage claim after visiting a kiosk. To date, Global Entry at most airports consists of scanning the traveler’s passport and fingerprint at the machine before being cleared to enter the country. Going forward, CBP will be…

New App Lets Strangers Find Your Name, Info — Simply By Snapping Your Photo!

What if a stranger could snap your picture on the sidewalk then use an app to quickly discover your name, address and other details? A startup called Clearview AI has made that possible, and its app is currently being used by hundreds of law enforcement agencies in the US, including the FBI, says a Saturday report in The New York Times. The app, says the Times, works by comparing a photo to a database of more than 3 billion pictures that Clearview says it’s scraped off Facebook, Venmo, YouTube and other sites. It then serves up matches, along with links…

The Secretive Company That Might End Privacy as We Know It

Until recently, Hoan Ton-That’s greatest hits included an obscure iPhone game and an app that let people put Donald Trump’s distinctive yellow hair on their own photos. Then Mr. Ton-That — an Australian techie and onetime model — did something momentous: He invented a tool that could end your ability to walk down the street anonymously, and provided it to hundreds of law enforcement agencies, ranging from local cops in Florida to the F.B.I. and the Department of Homeland Security. His tiny company, Clearview AI, devised a groundbreaking facial recognition app. You take a picture of a person, upload it…

Xenobots are here: Tiny bio-robots inside your veins may heal you & will definitely be weaponized by West to take out ‘bad guys’

Peter Andrews is an Irish science journalist and writer, based in London. He has a background in the life sciences, and graduated from the University of Glasgow with a degree in Genetics Xenobots — tiny, biological robots swarms designed by a computer — are upon us. What does the birth of these strange not-quite-alive creatures mean for robotics — and for us? Real robots are not two-legged steel boxes with a metallic voice Mankind has been imagining advanced robot technology for a long time  — pop culture is full of Terminators, Cylons, and Droids. But in fact, these humanoid designs show…

Your online activity is now effectively a social ‘credit score’

Kaylen Ward’s Twitter fundraiser for the Australian bushfire relief has ended. The Los Angeles-based model said she raised $1 million (by comparison Jeff Bezos donated $690,000). At the start of Ms. Ward’s successful donation drive she had three Instagram accounts — none of which were part of the campaign. Despite that, Instagram kicked her off all three accounts, saying her behavior on Twitter violated Instagram’s sexually suggestive content guidelines. On Twitter, Ms. Ward — as The Naked Philanthropist — offered a privately-sent nude photo to those who provided verifiable proof of donation to organizations including Australian Red Cross and The…

Rentable Facial Recognition Robots Coming To A Conference Near You

Conference goers now have to be wary that robots will identify them everywhere they go. Corporations can now rent Chinese-made CloudMinds robots that can identify everyone on the conference floor. (To learn more about CloudMinds and China click here & here.) CloudMinds mission is to “make helpful robot services possible and to make them safe, secure and affordable.” While their hidden mission is to help governments identify everyone. According to CloudMinds “About Us” page, their so-called values are to convince employees, moms, dads and their children to trust rentable emotion and facial recognition robots. We make helpful robot Their rent-a-robot program allows business…

DHS Secretary: Allowing Citizens To Get Regular Drivers Licenses ‘Puts People At Risk’

A few weeks ago, DHS took absurdity to a whole new level in New Jersey. DHS told residents that allowing people an alternative to Real-ID drivers licenses would put citizen’s and police officers lives in danger. Why? Because the state had the audacity to ignore Homeland Security and the TSA by giving residents a choice between Real-ID drivers licenses and the regular drivers licenses that have been in use for approximately 107 years. DHS, the TSA, and law enforcement continuously “cry wolf” whenever a state pushes back against Real-ID. Appropriately named, Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf was quoted by New Jersey 101.5 as…

Security expert offers hacking advice to students whose campuses have implemented pervasive wireless surveillance

After a late-December Washington Post story revealed a nationwide epidemic of colleges quietly installing pervasive wireless location-tracking systems on campus, which gathered data on students without meaningful consent, inside and outside of class, broken down by protected categories such as race and gender, as well as on potentially invasive lines such as whether a student is from abroad, security researcher Lace R Vick (previously) tweeted an offer to students to explain how they could “dismantle such a system.” In a followup Gizmodo article, Vick delves into the deficiencies with the notifications, consent and privacy policies associated with these services —…

Global sales of video surveillance equipment projected to surpass $20 billion this year

Nothing is slowing the growth of video surveillance technology. Not spotty economic growth around the globe, or even the ongoing trade war between the United States and China, the technology’s two biggest adopters. In fact, a new report by research firm IHS Markit forecasts global sales of surveillance equipment — cameras, recorders, video-management software and accessories — to top $20 billion for the first time this year. The market will grow almost 10 percent this year over last, and potentially faster in south and southeast Asian economies according to the research. According to IHS Markit, the number of professionally installed…

Unremovable malware found preinstalled on low-end smartphone sold in the US

Low-end smartphones sold to Americans with low-income via a government-subsidized program contain unremovable malware, security firm Malware bytes said today in a report. The smartphone model is Unimax (UMX) U686CL, a low-end Android-based smartphone made in China and sold by Assurance Wireless, a cell phone service provider part of the Virgin Mobile group. The telco sells cell phones part of Lifeline, a government program that subsidizes phone service for low-income Americans. “In late 2019, we saw several complaints in our support system from users with a government-issued phone reporting that some of its pre-installed apps were malicious,” Malwarebytes said in…

Black America Before LBJ: How the Welfare State Inadvertently Helped Ruin Black Communities

“We waged a war on poverty and poverty won.”  President Ronald Reagan, 1988 State of the Union Address The dust has settled and the evidence is in: The 1960s Great Society and War on Poverty programs of President Lyndon Baines Johnson (LBJ) have been a colossal and giant failure. One might make the argument that social welfare programs are the moral path for a modern government. They cannot, however, make the argument that these are in any way effective at alleviating poverty. In fact, there is evidence that such aggressive programs might make generational poverty worse. While the notion of…

Airbnb AI Can Scan Online Activity to Rule Out Users as ‘Untrustworthy’

The global booking platform Airbnb has developed technology that looks at guests’ online “personalities” when they book a break to calculate the risk of them ravaging a host’s place. The software, revealed in a patent issued by the European Patent Office and published in the US, could scan sites including social media for traits such as “conscientiousness and openness” against the usual credit and identity checks and what it describes as “secure third-party databases” to forecast suitability to rent a place. The traits the AI will be looking for are “neuroticism and involvement in crimes” and “narcissism, Machiavellianism, or psychopathy”…

America Is The 4th Worst Abuser Of Biometric Privacy Rights In The World

Does anyone really believe America is still the land of the free? Since 9/11, DHS, the FBI, the CIA, and countless other alphabet soup agencies have turned the United States into a public surveillance monstrosity. In 19 years, one terrorist attack has done what no one else could have dreamed of: turn America’s freedoms into a distant memory. Abusing citizen’s rights and privacy used to be the hallmark of dictatorships and police states like the CCCP or North Korea. A recent study conducted by Comparitech, rated 50 countries from best to worst at protecting citizen’s biometric data. The study found that…

UN Moves Towards Handing Dictatorships Power to Control the Internet…Legitimizing web blackouts and free speech censorship

The United Nations wants to hand power to dictatorial regimes like China to control the Internet, prompting fears of a massive new free speech purge. The General Assembly has approved a resolution sponsored by China and Russia to set up a committee of “international experts” whose role would be to stop “the use of information and communications technologies for criminal purposes.” However, many caution that the move is merely a back door for authoritarian regimes to further censor dissent. “The United States, European powers and rights groups fear that the language is code for legitimizing crackdowns on expression, with numerous…

How to Turn Off Smart TV Snooping Features

How much does your TV know about you? That’s one of the questions we asked in 2018 when Consumer Reports undertook an analysis of smart TV privacy and security involving several major TV brands: LG, Samsung, Sony, TCL—which use the Roku TV smart TV platform—and Vizio. Smart TVs are sets that connect to the internet, making it easy to stream videos from services such as Netflix. Our investigation found that all smart TVs can collect and share significant amounts of personal data about their viewers. And so can the dozens—or even hundreds—of third-party apps that work with the platforms. These concerns are receiving…

College students now tracked like cattle, using new technology that monitors their every move across campus, 24 hours a day

If you’ve ever visited, worked at, or merely observed a cattle ranch, you probably noticed that the animals had colored tags in their ears that identified their owners and helped to keep tabs on their whereabouts. Well, the same thing is now happening at colleges and universities all across the country as many institutions of “higher learning” are adopting new tracking technologies that monitor student behavior and movement 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Students who are “less academically inclined,” according to a report by The Washington Post, can be tracked in real time to make sure they’re…

Worker fired for declining a face scan awarded $23,200

Christchurch electrician Tim Fensom has been awarded $23,200 after he was fired for refusing to use a face scanning system. Fensom worked for construction company KME Services for eight months as a lead electrician during the construction of Christchurch’s new hospital before he was fired on October 30, 2018, the Employment Relations Authority said in its determination. KME managing director Tim Lane replaced the company’s paper-based timesheets with a biometric system that scanned workers’ faces when they arrived and left the hospital construction site after two other subcontracting companies started using it. When Fensom raised concerns he was told  to use the system or receive  a warning for breaching KME’s health and safety policy. Workers were informed…

Pentagon warns against military personnel using home testing DNA kits

Over the last few years, the genealogy community has shown great interest in establishing ethics boards. Their concern is that it is now far too easy to modify one’s genetic makeup in very unpredictable ways. And while we’re still not quite there yet, there’s a much more relevant concern on the horizon. Websites like Ancestry.com and 23andMe claim to be able to track one’s lineage as well as other health information with high levels of accuracy. This has lead to an explosive interest in the market, without much concern for what could be potentially done with that data. This is…

The city of Baltimore will be monitored by surveillance airplanes for up to six months next year…

The city of Baltimore will be monitored by surveillance airplanes for up to six months next year under a pilot program announced Friday that is aimed at helping law enforcement investigate violent crime and that will effectively restart a tactic secretively used three years ago. The flights, which civil liberties groups oppose, will start in May and gather footage during the hours when the city experiences high rates of crime. The announcement marks a reversal for Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison, who previously expressed skepticism over the use of the planes and described the idea as an “untested” crime-fighting strategy.…

Arizona Now Has a Task Force Focused on Countering Disinformation

On a rainy Tuesday afternoon in November, members of the newly formed Arizona Task Force on Countering Disinformation met at a conference room in downtown Phoenix’s Arizona State Courts Building to discuss ways to counter disinformation directed at the state’s judicial system. The task force, which includes lawyers, judges, academics, and public information officers, is believed to be the first such entity in the country. Currently it’s holding public and private meetings on the subject, and by October 2020 it will prepare a report with final recommendations. They could include finding ways to identify and counter disinformation, creating public education…

Now Hear This: Alexa and Google Home Eavesdropping Hack Remains Unfixed

Baby monitors, home assistants, security systems, and other common wireless and “Smart” devices seem to be easy targets for hackers (see 1, 2, 3). Thanks to Threatpost for reporting more unsettling news for Alexa and Google Home users: Months after researchers disclosed a new way to exploit Alexa and Google Home smart speakers to spy on users, those same researchers now warn that Amazon and Google have yet to create effective ways to prevent the eavesdropping hack. The researchers who in October disclosed the “Smart Spies” hack, which enables eavesdropping, voice-phishing, or using people’s voice cues to determine passwords, told…

There’s a simple reason your new smart TV was so affordable: It’s collecting and selling your data, and serving you ads

Massive TVs with razor-thin frames, brilliant image quality, and built-in streaming services are more affordable than ever thanks to companies like Vizio and TCL. If you want a 65-inch 4K smart TV with HDR capability, one can be purchased for below $500 — a price that may seem surprisingly low for such a massive piece of technology, nonetheless one that’s likely to live in your home for years before you upgrade. But that low price comes with a caveat most people probably don’t realize: Some manufacturers collect data about users and sell that data to third parties. The data can…

The Pentagon has a laser that can identify people from a distance—by their heartbeat

Everyone’s heart is different. Like the iris or fingerprint, our unique cardiac signature can be used as a way to tell us apart. Crucially, it can be done from a distance. It’s that last point that has intrigued US Special Forces. Other long-range biometric techniques include gait analysis, which identifies someone by the way he or she walks. This method was supposedly used to identify an infamous ISIS terrorist before a drone strike. But gaits, like faces, are not necessarily distinctive. An individual’s cardiac signature is unique, though, and unlike faces or gait, it remains constant and cannot be altered…

NEC Uses Customer Experience Centers To Expand Government-Run Facial Recognition

Want to convince our politicians to use facial recognition? How about opening a biometric customer experience center near the Congress and the Senate? That is exactly what the Nippon Electric Company or the NEC Corporation has created in Washington DC. NECs “Customer Experience Center” might be its actual name but their goal is to convince politicians that using facial recognition and biometric tracking is a good thing. NECs Customer Experience Center, Washington, DC webpage makes no attempt at hiding the fact that their Customer Experience Center is designed to help convince government officials that using facial recognition to identify everyone is…

Germany plans law to tackle “right-wing extremism”, force Facebook, Gmail and more to hand over passwords

Germany is looking for ways to ramp up its already controversial Network Enforcement Act, NetzDG. Passed in 2017, it has attracted a lot of criticism for the treatment of third party content on social media platforms, massive fines, and short (24-hour) deadlines for removal of what is termed as “manifestly unlawful” content. But NetzDG obviously doesn’t serve Germany’s authorities well, considering the current concerted effort by ministers from both of the county’s ruling parties, CDU and SPD, to build on NetzDG in order to counter online “hate speech” even more rigorously. German tech website Heise writes about this new law…

Police Use Internet Surveillance Zones To Monitor Private Purchases Or Swaps

Police departments across the country are creating “Safe Exchange Zones” in front of police stations or inside them to monitor internet purchases or swaps 24/7. According to Newsweek, police have been encouraging the public to conduct internet purchases or swaps at police-run Internet Exchange Zones since at least 2016. “Yes, it’s real,” Charlette Solis, Mobile PD’s public affairs officer, “It’s for people who made transactions in Craigslist or elsewhere to meet up and make that purchase. The Police Department is a safer place to make those exchanges than just anywhere.” If I have learned anything in my nearly 10 years of blogging,…

FBI surveillance ‘an embarrassment to our country’, Trump says, after Justice Department report released

President Donald Trump has slated the FBI’s surveillance operation against him, calling it a “disgrace” and “an embarrassment to our country,” after a Justice Department report found “mistakes” in the agency’s conduct. “This was an attempted overthrow and a lot of people were in on it, and they got caught,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Monday, hours after the Justice Department’s Inspector General released a report on the origins of the FBI’s 2016 counterintelligence probe against the Trump campaign. “It’s a disgrace…it’s incredible, far worse than I would have ever thought possible. It’s an embarrassment to our…

Colorado Appeals Court: Three Months Of Surveillance Via Pole-Mounted Camera Is Unconstitutional

How much warrantless surveillance is too much surveillance? It depends on which court you ask. Public areas, which include people’s front doors and unfenced yards, have very little in the way of privacy expectations. Consequently, there’s a lot of warrantless surveillance aimed at these areas, usually in the form of pole-mounted cameras. While warrants could be obtained, they usually aren’t. And, in some cases, the surveillance occurs during the early stages of an investigation where enough probable cause hasn’t been established to secure a warrant even if investigators thought they might need one. In 2014, a Washington federal court judge…

Apple admits iPhone 11 Pro still collects location data even when told not to

A security researcher has found that the iPhone 11 Pro still intermittently collects location data even when the user has blocked it from doing so. Apple has seemingly admitted this, telling the researcher that this is ‘expected behavior’ … KrebsOnSecurity identified the issue, made a video showing it happening (below) and reported it to Apple. However, the response from the iPhone maker implies that certain ‘system services’ continue to collect location data even when the user has selected Never for all individual system services and apps. One of the more curious behaviors of Apple’s new iPhone 11 Pro is that…

Say cheese! DHS proposes MANDATORY facial recognition checks for US citizens at airports

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is pushing to impose mandatory facial recognition scans on all Americans entering or leaving the United States, moving to close a loophole that allows citizens to opt out. Proposed in a recent filing, the DHS requested a change to the current rules in order to “provide that all travelers, including US citizens, may be required to be photographed upon entry and/or departure” from the US, citing the need to identify criminals or “suspected terrorists.” While not yet implemented, the rule change is in the “final stages of clearance,” a DHS official told CNN…

KONE To Put Facial Recognition And Alexa Listening Devices In Elevators

The good old days of elevator music being a minor distraction is about change. VentureBeat reports that “elevators of the future will have virtual windows, voice-activated controls, music-streaming, and more.” KONE’s DX Class, elevators will give security and the buildings owners, unparalleled access to view what is happening inside their elevators. “Yesterday’s announcement concerned new elevators designed from the get-go with connectivity built in, allowing building owners to remotely control, activate, and deactivate specific services from a central dashboard. The setup includes a dynamic display, acoustics, and lighting that can be used to tailor the ambiance and interior.” KONE’s “Monitoring…

Leaked documents show state-owned Chinese companies are shaping global UN facial recognition standards

Leaked documents obtained by the Financial Times show that state-owned Chinese tech companies are drafting proposals that shape global facial recognition standards. According to the documents, China Telecom, Dahua, and ZTE are proposing new international standards that influence the United Nation’s (UN’s) International Telecommunication Union (ITU) standards for facial recognition, video monitoring, city, and vehicle surveillance. These ITU standards are increasingly being authored by companies rather than government officials. Once drafted, these standards are highly influential on the global rules for using and developing facial recognition, particularly in developing countries. According to Richard Wingfield, the Head of Legal at the…

Propaganda: DHS wants to expand airport face recognition scans to include US citizens (surprise, it’s all ready happening)

Homeland Security wants to expand facial recognition checks for travelers arriving to and departing from the U.S. to also include citizens, which had previously been exempt from the mandatory checks. In a filing, the department has proposed that all travelers, and not just foreign nationals or visitors, will have to complete a facial recognition check before they are allowed to enter the U.S., but also to leave the country. Facial recognition for departing flights has increased in recent years as part of Homeland Security’s efforts to catch visitors and travelers who overstay their visas. The department, whose responsibility is to…

Gold Mine: Big Banks Coming After Your Spending Data…

There’s a powerful new player watching what you buy so it can tailor product offerings for you: the bank behind your credit or debit card. For years, Google and Facebook have been showing ads based on your online behavior. Retailers from Amazon to Walgreens also regularly suction up your transaction history to steer future spending and hold your loyalty. Now banks, too, want to turn data they already have on your spending habits into extra revenue by identifying likely customers for retailers. Banks are increasingly aware that they could be sitting on a gold mine of information that can be used to…